Sunday, September 28, 2008

Departure from Hockey: Nebraska Football Trip

Straying very far from blog general topic, this post is about my trip to Lincoln, NE to watch some Hokie (Virginia Tech)-Husker college football.

Granted, I haven't made the trip to an enormous number of college football destinations, but this may have been my favorite. Let's take a look at them (in no particular order)...

University of Oregon - Having gone to grad school in Eugene and being a Duck fan, I'm extremely biased, but I'd say it's an excellent venue and city to visit for college football simply because it's so incredibly loud there. Additionally, it's a very cool stadium in an incredibly picturesque setting.

UCLA - It gets credit as a place to visit simply due to the 100,000+ the Rose Bowl (stadium, not the game) in Pasadena holds, but beyond that... it's just ok (not that much of a college atmosphere).

Pittsburgh - My least favorite college location visited. It's no fault of the Pitt Panthers, but it's just not the same experience going to see a college game in a pro stadium (and pro town for that matter). I wouldn't recommend it.

Virginia Tech - Another excellent place to go see a game. Huge stadium with a very impassioned and knowledgeable fan base. Only drawback is if the town of Blacksburg isn't in the middle of nowhere, it can at least see it from there. Probably the best travel route to take is to fly into DC and play tourist for a few days and then drive the 4 1/2 hours into town.

Fresno State - Like one of those wine descriptions you sometimes come across... "Surprisingly vibrant with ...". I certainly didn't expect a lot from the trip since you know... its Fresno, but the stadium is nice and packed full of fans that are way into their team, and were not unfriendly to the opposition fans. If in driving distance, I'd recommend a visit.

Texas A&M - Very very good. College Station is one of those quintessential college towns and it features a gynormous on-campus stadium filled with dedicated fans who cheer in unison (I don't just mean everyone cheers when the Aggies do something good, I mean large portions of the stadium do the same group cheers and songs year after year. The best part of a trip to College Station, though, is the fans... some of the nicest people you could hope to meet.

And, now...

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - We arrived into town on a Friday night, went out for food and a few drinks, and then rested up for gameday... and what a gameday it was. We had previously been told about Sidetracks as THE bar to visit and the need to arrive early. So... bright-eyed and bushy-tailed we rolled in at around 11:45AM and spent the next 5 or so hours cavorting with an amazingly friendly group of Nebraska fans who kept (A) asking if we were having fun, (B) entertaining us songs about Husker football and (C) plying us with free beer.

At this point, we had a few hours left until game time so we headed off in search of that mythical and magnificent creature, the tailgate. It was as if the Nebraska fans metaphorically said to us "rolling into our parking lot with no supplies of your own, no problem! Here's a beer". Suffice to say, we did not lack for good food, good drink or good conversation with some very good people.

From there, we went to the stadium and while it would be next to impossible to measure up to the fans outside the stadium, the venue itself came close with seats for some 85-odd thousand Big Red supporters.

Just a great place to see a game and the fans were so nice, it's almost reason enough to visit Blacksberg for the game next year to return the favor.

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